CrossFit Open Update - March 6th, 2012

Here is my view on the first 2 events of the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games: "The Open".

Event # 1 - Burpee mania:
1) Time limit: 7 minutes
2) Modalities: 1
3) Energy System Tested (based on top competitors): Aerobic Power/Capacity
4) Thoughts:
- I thought it was great test. Straight to the point, and painful. It will truly test the aerobic capacity requirements of the CrossFitter. Meaning, high breathing/cardiac output, no breaks, and accumulate muscular fatigue as the event goes on in time.
- It will expose the weakness of an athlete not having enough muscular endurance to challenge their aerobic system, or vice versa. In my case, my muscular endurance (upper body horizontal pushing musculature and quads) was not good enough to challenge my aerobic system (as I was never short of breath), and I would say this is the same for many competitors. OR, the other scenario for people is that they can keep going (muscular endurance is not the limiting factor) but they cannot breath well enough to sustain their effort (i.e. out of breath). In my view, this is the WORST scenario as your breathing/cardiac/respiratory system should be humming along at this time of the year leading in the Reebok CrossFit Games season, and your performance should be limited by your muscular ability to sustain your efforts in these types of CrossFit testers.
- One important aspect to this test is the competitor knowing how to best run their engine. Meaning, knowing how and when to push the speed of reps/min, when to back off slightly, and to be able to gauge intensity in their heads (yes, even within 2% ranges of intensity for that does happen for experienced competitors/trainees) as they are moving through the 7 minutes such that they finish with the best performance possible for them, knowing that given the day, the test, and their ability they could not have done better (that is tough to know when doing a test for the first time, but again, the intensity meter in your head becomes vitally important) w.
- I believe that single modality testing is limited, but is necessary to truly have a valid/reliable/repeatable test. The more modalities included, the great the difficulty to have a valid/reliable/repeatable test. You have to start somewhere!
- This test was obviously favouring a shorter, lighter person.
- I believe the results of 69,000 competitors would likely be exactly opposite if the test was a 2,000m Row, simply based on body size. Those who stand out from this trend, would be the outliers and therefore statistics would predict them to perform best in other tests (i.e. big guys, 5'10" and greater/200lbs and greater, getting over 120 + reps would likely be considered as an example).

Event # 2 - Snatch mania:
1) Time limit: 10 minutes
2) Modalities: 1
3) Energy System Tested (based on top competitors): Creatine Phosphate Stamina/Capacity (CP recovery ability)
4) Thoughts:
- I thought it was a great test of this energy system. Again, works well to test the needs of the CrossFit competitor (ability to work @ high % of effort compared to their 1RM's, take very short rests, and go again). I am sure there are as many opinions about what people didn't like about this event as there were people that competed in the event (so roughly, 69,000). My opinion was that the weight jumps were too far apart and too many reps at the same weight, therefore creating a lot of ties on the leader board (ties are bound to happen in every event with 69,000 competitors, it is simple probability).
- One great aspect to this test was that it challenged people to adapt to the new weight of the bar, under fatigue. This is where I believe skill acquisition became important, as a 165lb snatch or 210lb snatch does not feel the same when it is preceded by 30 snatches @ 75lb, and 30 snatches @ 135lb. I liked that aspect. In my facility I had a few guys excel with this added challenge, and a few guys have a tough time adapting (even though they could snatch much more than was on the bar).
- Obviously for some of the guys that made it above 60+ reps, muscular endurance would likely limit performance in some competitors (my guess would be either shoulders or lower back). But, if muscular endurance limits performance on this, that is a sign that you need to improve that areas endurance if you truly wish to make it to the elite levels.
- This test favoured a stronger/powerful person, this person on average is likely larger than the person who did the best on Event # 1. So, it did attempt to balance out Event # 1.
- Height makes a big difference here - shorter distance, shorter moment arms (i.e. levers), less time per rep, less time under tension per rep, etc.

Bring on the rest of The Open!

Good luck, all.